Kirkley boss sets side survival points target
Kirkley & Pakefield boss Paul Tong has set his side a target of 40 points to preserve their Ridgeons Premier Division status beyond this season.
Monday's 2-0 win over basement boys Great Yarmouth Town extended the Royals' unbeaten run to five games, but with other sides around them also picking up points over the festive period Tong has warned his squad they must not rest on their laurels.
Tong's arrival has seen Kirkley become a lot more difficult to beat, but the Royals chief insists there is still plenty of work to do.
'We've still got a long way to go – I've set the lads a target of 40 points and I think that will be enough to keep us in the division,' he said.
'We are on track for that, having taken 26 points from 26 games, so we will have to try and keep that up at the very least.
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'It's crucial that we stay in this league.'
Kirkley had to make do without first team regulars Dominic Smith and Ryan De Coteau against Yarmouth and Tong admitted the depth of his squad has been sorely tested since his arrival at Walmer Road.
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'The lads are listening to what I want them to do but we've got some very tough games coming up,' he added. 'We've still got a lot of work to do. What's pleasing is the way that the squad has stepped up to the plate.
'I would just love the chance to keep a settled side though – to miss Dominic Smith and Ryan De Coteau from Saturday is a big blow.
'We've had to show that we've got a lot of strength in depth at the club and that's a credit to the lads stepping up from the reserves.
'We need points because we don't want to be sucked into a dog fight down there.'
Despite the victory against Yarmouth, courtesy of goals from Russell Stock and Kyle Baker, Tong apologised to the club's supporters for what he felt was a below-par display from his side.
'I thought we played poorly – we had a job to get going, but you've got to give Yarmouth credit. They were unlucky to come in at half-time 1-0 down.
'But we know that it wasn't a spectacle and I'm sorry that it wasn't for the supporters.
'I think you have to look at the result and bearing in mind we were without a couple of our big players so it was good to get the three points.
'We didn't play well, but I bet Gorleston would have settled for not playing well on Boxing Day and getting the three points.
'With the way the results went though we know that we've still got a battle on our hands to pull away from the foot of the table.'
It doesn't get any easier for Tong's men though as they prepare to welcome Wisbech to Walmer Road (kick-off 3pm).
'Wisbech are flying at the moment. They might have one eye on their tie in the Vase later this month, which I expect them to get through, but it's going to be a really tough afternoon. Hopefully though the lads can put on a bit of a display in front of our own fans.'